Little-Known Rule Results in 60-Yard Field Goal in Georgia High School Playoff Game

Posted by Jacob Plunkett on 11/30/17 11:22 AM

There have been only 13 successful field goal attempts of 60 yards or more in the NFL since the merger in 1970.

Ryan Fitzgerald, a Junior at Colquitt County high school in Moultrie, GA, accomplished that feat last Friday night in a very unusual way.

With 0:14 left in the first half of their GHSA 7A quarterfinal game, the Archer Tigers were forced to punt from deep within their own territory. The Tigers got off a decent kick with enough hangtime to require a fair catch at the 50 yard line.

 

 

Here's where it gets interesting.

An obscure rule in both high school and professional football states that a team that receives a fair catch has the option to take a free kick from the spot of the fair catch. The opposing team must treat this as a free kick and remain 10 yards back of the line of scrimmage. If the kick goes through the uprights, it's worth three points, just like a field goal. 

Like we said, it's a rule that few are aware of, and even fewer have seen in action.

Colquitt was aware, however, and decided to take advantage. They spotted the ball on a tee at midfield, and sent out the hammer-footed Fitzgerald, who proceeded to drill the 60-yard attempt.

 

 

Just so you're aware of how rare this is, the last recorded instance of a free kick field goal in the NFL was 1976. It requires a perfect storm of three criteria:

1. A fair catch must be made within field goal range

2. There must be little enough time remaining in the half or game to warrant an immediate kick

3. Your kicker must have an absolute BOOT

Colquitt had all three things go their way, and Ryan Fitzgerald was up to the task.

The Packers ended up winning the game 12-7, with those 12 points coming courtesy of - you guessed it - four Fitzgerald field goals.

Watch the next round of playoffs this weekend on the NFHS Network - where you never know what you might see.

Watch LIVE Nationwide High School Playoffs

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